By Michalla Bolton
People who choose to make a difference in the world can have a major impact. Along the way these individuals inspire others and just like a ripple in a pond, the effects of giving expand. One such individual who has turned a drop of water into a tidal wave of change is Davin Joseph. Davin Joseph was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the 2006 NFL draft. This was not just an opportunity for him to follow his passion, but a platform to help others. Joseph took the time to speak with Positive Impact Magazine about what he is doing to help students.
PIM: Following your dreams with football has allowed you to in turn help others. One example is the Dream Team. How does this organization help to lower child hunger and enhance opportunities for youth in public schools?
Joseph: “We are mainly doing it through athletics and performing arts. Through athletics we are in the process of developing a programing that fills that gap between lunch and practice with a snack. Kids are not eating in the time between lunch and dinner. We have been doing pre game meals. We are able to feed about 250 kids per school through this program. We are currently looking to expand to more schools to get those numbers up even higher. I have been able to enhance student opportunities by creating high school weight rooms, raising awareness, and buying equipment for art programs so that students can showcase better and more efficiently.”
PIM: What inspired you to give back?
Joseph: “Really I think my mission chose me. I wanted to give back and I interviewed with administrative, couches and parents. I got a lot of feedback about the needs of students. Also, learning about conditions due to budget cuts, that schools didn’t have the right equipment etc. Being able to make things more attractive for kids is important also. Making a program look attractive will allow kids to make a choice to join or feel they can be more successful. I started out wanting to help kids and make a difference and then got feedback that allowed me to start the programs and begin to encourage kids to participate. That wanting to give back really got me started. I am doing what I think the public needs.
PIM: I love that you took the time to do the research to find out what the need was and then to really cater to the kids.
Joseph: It’s important to be efficient with the money that you are giving.
PIM: How did you feel about being nominated for the All Stars for Giving Award?
Joseph: It’s a very diverse group of athletes all doing great things. To get that recognition amongst the sports community it was a great honor. We fell a little short but the young lady that won is doing amazing things. It is great to see so many current and former athletes that are still active in giving back.
PIM: Can you tell me more about the free physicals you offer students?
Joseph: We started with free physicals because we found out that there was a need for student athletes to get physicals. Sounds pretty simple but a lot of kid’s could not afford to get physicals in order to play football or any other sport. So in order to increase participation we started these free physicals. I got it started, found people that really cared, found doctors willing to donate their time and services and it’s been a great experience so far.
PIM: That’s amazing! Who and what inspires you?
Joseph: People such as Derick Brooke and Mike Alstott. They will take their time out to really do things and to give back. They get a great response not just because they are great players but they are great people. I wanted to be a part of that club of athletes that really cared about their community and making a difference.
PIM: Do you feel you have inspired other teammates to give back?
Joseph: Starting back in 2007 we had every offensive lineman giving away thanksgiving meals to needy families. Throughout my time in Tampa we were able to do that every year. I passed the torch off and it became an organizational event where cheerleaders, couches, employees etc. would show up and volunteer. It turned out to be such a great event. It was great to be able to start something that will hopefully continue to be a tradition in the Tampa Bay area. It caught fire and now it’s a big deal.
PIM: When you speak to kids in their communities what motto, lessons, or advice do you offer?
Joseph: It’s this whole thing about the one percent. I hear people say things like, don’t tell these kids they can become football players because they have a miniscule chance of becoming one. O.k. so I’m supposed to tell a kid not to chase his dreams? It’s about the journey and fulfilling or at least chasing your dreams. If you never take the journey because someone tells you that you can’t, that’s discouraging to me. I went on a journey and it worked out for me but along that journey I met so many great people that inspired me. Some of my best friends are ones I met along that journey. It’s not whether or not you become a hall of famer or win a trophy it’s about what you learn along the way. If you never go on the journey then you’re limiting yourself and I believe you’re not really doing what you love. My suggestion? Chase dreams all the time. If you make it or don’t, just enjoy the ride. Sports can teach people how to be better individuals, better leaders, how to work hard, and I could go on and on. Also, if you can get a higher education through sports or other programs there’s a great opportunity. I think being a student athlete pushes you to be a better student because you have a higher responsibility.
PIM: How do you feel you have made a positive impact in the world and in communities?
Joseph: That’s a question for someone else to answer, but I have been trying very hard to make a difference. I think somewhere along the line that I have made some pretty positive impacts. I’m trying every day to make a difference and hopefully one day we will feel that impact.
Go to http://davinsdreamteam.org/ to join the cause